An effort led by Wyoming Republican U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman to block the Bureau of Land Management’s controversial Rock Springs Resource Management Plan gained traction Thursday when the U.S. House passed her amendment to that effect.
Some Sweetwater County elected officials told Cowboy State Daily that they are thrilled with the House vote.
The House passed the amendment offered by Hageman to the Interior Appropriations bill that prohibits the finalization of the draft Rock Springs Resource Management Plan, according to a press release from Hageman’s office.
In a statement, Hageman called the RMP “one of the largest land grabs we’ve ever seen.”
Good News For Sweetwater County
The BLM manages about 3.6 million acres out of the agency’s Rock Springs Field Office, much of it in Sweetwater County. The BLM’s preferred Alternative B for the draft RMP designates 1.8 million acres of that as “areas of critical environmental concern.”
That has the Sweetwater County Commission and others worried. They contend that the RMP could deal a huge blow to the area’s economy related to energy, grazing, tourism and other uses.
News that Hageman’s amendment had passed the U.S. House was welcome, said Sweetwater County Commissioner Taylor Jones and state Sen. Stacy Jones, R-Rock Springs, who are married.
“We’re obviously thrilled. We can’t express our appreciation for Congresswoman Hagman’s efforts,” Taylor Jones said, adding that he and his wife had spoken with Hageman on Thursday. “She’s very excited about it, and we’re very hopeful.”
Stacy Jones said if Hageman’s effort to stop the Rock Spring RMP succeeds, it will give people in Sweetwater County and the rest of Wyoming an opportunity to work with the BLM on a more suitable plan.
“I think it’s just a huge step forward for the people of Wyoming,” she said.
Taylor Jones said Hageman gave an apt description of the current draft RMP in her release Thursday.
She harshly criticizes the RMP, saying that it would essentially lock Wyoming stakeholders out of using millions of acres of BLM land.
“Perhaps what’s most disheartening about this RMP is the fact that it’s ignored stakeholder input over the past 12 years,” Hageman said. The Biden “administration has proven time and time again that it wants to decide what’s best for each and every community in every nook and cranny in the United States — they always think they know better than the people most impacted by their foolish decisions.
“We’ve seen this kind of thing happen across state lines, including the Bears Ears designation in Utah and others in Colorado and Arizona. We need to put a stop to this, or our communities will continue to be taken advantage of by the powers that be.”
She also expressed gratitude for her colleagues’ support in her efforts to block “this monstrosity of a plan.”
BLM officials have previously told Cowboy State Daily that they can’t comment on Hageman’s efforts, because it’s a matter of ongoing legislation.
However, the agency continues to encourage the public to offer input on the draft RMP, during a public comment period that closes on Jan. 17, 2024. The draft proposal and a guide for filing comments are available online.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.